Set your alarm to Sixx: A.M.

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Five years after interviewing Nikki Sixx at his studio in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, I was invited to see Sixx: A.M. in their first live performance since 2009 and their only show of 2014. Best of all, it was an intimate shindig for iHeart Radio Live (no relation to Apple products… sorry, couldn’t resist) in Burbank just for fans, music industry people and media to promote the release of their third album, Modern Vintage. A title that could also be used to describe the sartorial style of the evening.

Inside the small venue with the AC on full blast, there is a pre-show going on. While the fashion sense at Hellfest is pretty straightforward metal, here it is much more stylized, often to perfection. Think more Vogue than street style. As in “not a strand of hair out of place” perfect. While Sixx: A.M. may not play glam rock, their audience is certainly glamourous, reinventing the sartorial codes of rock ’n’ roll. And they think high. As in sky-high some heels and shorter-than-necessary skirts that they cannot necessarily carry off. Black and denim are the dominant pieces. Raven hair with burgundy highlights for girls, with matching red, collagen lips, long locks for boys. Think Bettie Page gone metal. Or perhaps what would have been the offspring of Dita Von Teese and ex-hubby Marilyn Manson. It’s a cross between a catwalk and an art exhibit; there are enough tattoos to fill a gallery where wannabe, will-never-be and aging Mötley Crüe fans mingle. Angelenos have the style down to a tee. And some even literally… as in T-shirt, that is.

Rock ’n’ roll T-shirts will never die: Kiss, Fender, Iron Maiden, Slayer – you know, the usual. Axl Rose bandanas are still actually a thing, too, version 2014. I call fans who emulate their favorite rockers’ style “lookabees”. The tall Iggy Pop lookabee is sporting a Bad Boy tank and hat. He’s even got the pout.  Another popular look is Jack White. Strangely, no one has the courage — or enough gel and hairspray — to attempt the Nikki Sixx look. No Eighties hair in this venue. Heck no, it’s 2014. Nylon is the new Creem.

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On the dot at 7pm — this is live radio, after all — iHeartRadio’s DJ Tray Morgan introduces the band and teases a “special announcement to make shortly before the end of the show.” Which is in 15 minutes. And which I can guess. (No, the other guys from Mötley Crüe won’t be here for an impromptu set.)

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Sixx: A.M. kicks off with the live premiere of “Let’s Go”, warming up the audience: “Let’s go to the edge,” chants lead singer James Michael. They follow with new track “Stars”, after which Mr. iHeart DJ joins the band onstage for a short Q&A. While the first two Sixx: A.M. albums had Nikki’s books as templates – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack (2007) and This Is Gonna Hurt (2011) — Modern Vintage is the band’s first album which was inspired by… music. “We really discovered who’d we become as a band. We went through old Sixties records,” says James Michael, adding that they went through their own record collections, filled with artists like Queen and Wings. They were basically researching the art of songwriting. “Songs were king at the time and albums were not linear,” says Nikki Sixx, and DJ Ashba explains it best: “This is more of a celebration record. This was a wide open canvas and, God, did we paint.”

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After they perform another new track, “Gotta Get It Right”, the obvious surprise news is finally announced: Sixx: A.M. will go on a headlining tour for three weeks next April with Apocalyptica – “We just love that band.”. “You guys have only seen half of our dream,” DJ Ashba says.

While I’m pondering what the other half of that dream could be, cue the grand piano. James Michael beings a solo rendition of The Cars’ “Drive”, before he’s joined by the band and the saturated guitar kicks in. Not an easy track to cover as the original is perfection, but Ric Ocasek would approve. The crowd goes wild on the next song. “This is called ‘Life is Beautiful’,” screams James and the vitamin-infused hit gets everyone bouncing — enough to make sure not a strand of hair gets out of place. I’m standing next to a crazed male fan who, between songs, yells out his setlist suggestions. And he seems happy with the next tune, the somber “Before It’s Over,” which the band plays live for the first time, dedicated to someone dear to James Michael, sitting once again at the piano. “I lost a dear, dear friend and my manager of 16 years on Sunday and I wanna sing a song for him.” The rest of the band joins him mid-song with a lengthy guitar solo by DJ Ashba.

That was heartfelt and touching, but please let’s get going again, guys. “We’re gonna do a song from our second record, a record called This is Gonna Hurt.” The title track is a monster sound, crushing under its potency, creating a fracas with each riff. The set finishes with “Rise of the Beautiful People,” the perfect tune for the L.A. crowd and a resurrection for Sixx: A.M. It’s 8pm and time to go home.

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How to be a hot girl in L.A.

Farmers-sauce shopJim Morrison’s famous lyrics take on a whole new meaning at the hottest store in L.A., aptly called Light My Fire. The hot sauce specialty boutique, located in the heart of the Farmer’s Market, sells all sorts of tongue-burning concoctions, like BBQ sauces, salsas and snacks.

Forget mild and hot. The pungency here runs from an extremely spicy Heat 4 to a hotter-than-hell Heat Ten Plus Plus, the ultimate hottie being The Source, which clocks in 1.5 million Scoville units. Ouch. It should come with a tube of Preparation H… or a hot firefighter.

But the best part are the names. They must have had so much fun brainstorming. I wish I could list them all. Instead, I sneaked in a few quick pics (there is a “no photos” policy) of some of the funniest ones.

If you’re a masochist brave hot mama, you can order them online at www.hotsaucetogo.com. Come on baby, light your fire.

 

 

 

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Pink and purple flotilla

pink-boat4Last month, prior to attending the Guardians of the Galaxy screening at Disney’s headquarters in Paris, we took a stroll from République, passing through the Marais and Rue Beautreillis, where Jim Morrison lived at number 17, then made our way along the quay of the Seine on the Left Bank. A whole other Paris.

A lot of boats are anchored along the river – some private, but mostly floating restaurants and even a swimming pool. The bars on the quay had a beach-side feel making full use of the wide open space, ideal to lay down on the colorful deckchairs and soak in the sunshine and the tranquility despite being in the middle of the city.

It was mid-summer so not many locals were around, but these floating establishments, as well as the bars, tend to cater to a hip crowd.

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King Kong guarded one of the boats, a large vessel that looked like something out of a film involving an Eastern Bloc nation. But my favorite was the pink and purple boat. Its owner was watering the plants at the makeshift garden located on its bow and I snapped a few pictures of her fashionable flotilla. Isn’t it pretty?

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Liberté, Egalité, Stylisée

KureBazaar-tricolor

Should I paint my nails Mon bleu, Milk or Stiletto?

Bastille Day – or Fête Nationale, as they say here – commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison-fortress on July 14, 1789. It became a symbol of the uprising of a new nation, of the modern-day French Republic. It was a period of radical and social upheaval seeking to overthrow a society based on feudalism. The absolute monarchy that had reigned for centuries collapsed. The privileges of the monarchs, aristocrats and the Catholic Church evaporated and the principle of liberté, égalité, fraternité – liberty, equality, fraternity – was adopted. It is perhaps the most famous revolution in history and, of course, much more complicated than this. Living in Paris, I feel steeped in its rich history – I see it all around me. And its fashion.

If there’s one thing the French are good at – that is, besides food, wine, cheese, bread, chocolate, literature, art or architecture (that’s already quite an impressive list, non?) – it’s fashion. French couture revolutionized fashion and Parisians, style. They’re really good at that revolution thing, n’est-ce pas?

There’s a commotion in Paris every few months called Paris Fashion Week and every catwalk seems to bring forth some new mini revolution each season. We connect Paris style with haute couture like Chanel, Dior or Givenchy, among many other notable couture houses, and the words chic and elegant are liberally used when describing Parisian style.

Then there’s that stereotype. Bien sûr it is not true that French men grow mustaches, wear berets and carry a baguette under their arms. It’s a fun cliché, though, that even the French like to make fun of. You’ll even come across that Frenchman in cartoon form on many t-shirts and touristic items.

But how does the average Parisian dress in every day life? Not so different from you.

There seems to be a misconception that Parisians walk around in couture dresses and Louboutin heels during the day, as often depicted in films and TV shows. My girlfriends and I laughed at the Gossip Girls episodes that were shot in Paris in 2010. Seriously, no one dresses like they’re going to a cocktail party during the day.

Fair enough, the show is largely known for its incredible fashion so it’s natural that the wardrobe department would cater to people’s perception of Parisian street style rather than the reality of its, well, normality. Yes, Parisians dress pretty much like everyone else, they just know how to style it better and carry themselves with a different type of confidence, a certain je ne sais quoi.

So what do you wear when you’re visiting Paris? Or rather, what not to wear?

One thing that didn’t change from the decadent days of Marie-Antoinette is fashion. Bien sûr, Paris will always remain the fashion capital of the world. And I wish some tourists would take that into consideration when packing and make an effort.

I’ll be honest: there is a certain category of tourists who look as if they’re going hiking or, worse, beachcombing. Some look like they just got out of bed and slid some shoes or flip-flops on and bolted out the door. I understand it’s a city where there’s a lot of sightseeing to be done and a lot of walking involved, not to mention that you’re on holiday, but please – you’re not at the beach or in your backyard. So don’t stand out in something you would only wear at the seaside or in the privacy of your own home. I am by no means suggesting that you should get all dressed up, just don’t cater to the French stereotype of the typical North American tourist. You can look casual and chic with a t-shirt and shorts on – and stay comfortable – it’s merely a matter of the cut, shape and especially how you choose to wear them. A little effort goes a long way and, like it or or not, you’re sort of representing your country. And this is by no means about being superficial, but let’s face it – outer appearances do count. It’s the first impression people have of you. Superficiality isn’t a matter of clothing, by the way, but of personality.

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Team Louis XVI? A fun tee I spotted in Paris.

Men are not exempt from those rules, and French guys know it.

My friends in the States often ask me if French guys are really the sexiest. Well, I reply, that’s a matter of personal taste and preference and I don’t believe that nationality determines one’s powers of seduction. What I do know is that they sure like to look good.

French men certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to personal style. They are effortlessly debonair and their looks, timeless. They tend to favor classic pieces with a modern take. They even manage to look dressy in jeans! The key is the cut. European cuts are much more flattering.

The stylistic trend of the metrosexual is quite normal in Paris. Even their take on the hipster look is chic – and Paris is full of hipsters.

So guys, dress it up a notch. It’s a sign of respect for your host country and bear in mind that a lot of monuments and churches do not allow you in if you’re dressed inappropriately.

Here’s what to pack:

  • Casual button-down shirts and good-quality tees – perfect for day or evening.
  • Light-weight pants – they’re more comfortable and cooler than jeans in hot weather and look both casual and stylish.
  • Keep the flip-flops for the beach and sneakers for the gym – invest in good-quality walking shoes to survive long distances and withstand the shock of cobblestones.
  • A fedora hat – I know, it screams hipster, but it looks much nicer than a baseball hat. Or choose a cap.

The female suitcase is usually overpacked to the point of bursting (every piece has a reason for being in that suitcase, even if we never wear it) and you’ve arrived in Paris and finally unpacked. Now, what to wear on Bastille Day? Think tricolore like the national flag and work around that.

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Jean Paul Gaultier redefines his famous marinière as a mermaid dress

The essentials:

  • Skinny jeans or a black or red pencil skirt.
  • Jean Paul Gaultier’s ubiquitous marinière with its sailor stripes is a staple for French women. They come in the form of tanks or tees, loose-fitting or body-con, and can be both casual or formal depending on how you choose to wear it and what you pair it with.
  • Repetto ballerina flats in black, red or electric blue or red espadrille wedges for more elevation! In 2011, one of my favorite shoe brands, Noe, designed a limited edition tricolor pump for Bastille Day!
  • A little chic red handbag. I love my little Lancel bag. Or go for a clutch in red, white or blue!
  • Red lip stain or lipstick. Dior makes the best lipsticks and glosses. Its Addict line is addictive!
  • Red, white or blue nails? Take your pick from Kure Bazaar, my favourite nail polish brand as it is completely “4 free” – no synethetic camphor, toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phtalate – and 85% of its ingredients are natural.
  • This season’s cat eyes sunglasses to complete the French kitty look. Meow!
  • Oh, and before you walk out the door, put on some perfume, just a touch. Since it’s summer, opt for perfumes made especially for the season. Your regular perfume may provoke a reaction when exposed to sunlight and cause skin discoloration as fragrances tend to intensify in the heat. Summer fragrances generally have a lighter citrus or floral scent. I love O de Lancôme and Youth-Dew by Estée Lauder.

And don’t forget to indulge in a snack on Bastille Day. Try Fauchon’s tricolor éclair.

Fauchon eclair

Voilà, you’re pumped up with energy and ready to roam the city like a true parisienne or watch the fireworks exploding above the Tour Eiffel. Quite a view to a kill!

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Fauchon boldly goes where no fruit has gone before

Fauchon-Candice Milon PATISSERIE-

A long time ago (the other night), in a fruity galaxy far, far away (near Madeleine church), I visited the planet Fauchon and its constellation of edible Technicolor heavenly bodies… This wasn’t science fiction, but Fruit Fiction.

This summer, the celebrated French brand has concocted an entire galaxy of tutti frutti delights, 100% natural and 300% delicious, available until September 3. And I was invited to taste these unique galactic concoctions.

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But first, champagne by Lanson. It is suggested that I choose an ingredient to add to my glass to give flavour to this particular bubble. A plate of raspberries, fresh mint and lemon zest are the ideal partners for this cru. Being a very berry girl, I pick a framboise.

At another table nearby, a colourful constellation of fruits are waiting to take my palate to far-off gourmand worlds they’ve never traveled to before.

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The chefs aligning the fruity stars for me to taste

As I sip my fruity champagne, the chef-pâtissier guides me through the different flavours, some unexpected, as I relish a bit of each pastry.

We start off with the fruit constellations. At first sight, the ringed apricot, peach and cherry resemble real fruit, but they are actually made of biscuit, sponge cake and bavaroise mousse. Little pieces of edible art. But what really piques my interest are the rings, like Saturn, my favourite planet. Crunchy little rings made of white or dark chocolate.

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He then hands me a piece of the small square melon and redcurrant pie, its cream interior made with honey lavender, honeydew melon, vervain and pansies. My taste buds being to orbit out of this world.It is light and airy and melts in my mouth leaving a discreet lavender taste. This is really the best tarte I have ever tasted.

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The éclairs contain the most intense — and surprising — flavours of all. Their red icing conjures up very berry flavours, but they are paired with unexpected partners. The first éclair cream interior is made of raspberries and avocado. Yet it is subtle on the palate, slightly acidulated. It is covered in a raspberry icing and a Saturn ring made of white chocolate. The second éclair contains perhaps the most intense flavour of all, a surprising case of opposites attract. The creamy strawberry interior is mixed with red bell-pepper confits. It is sweet and fruity, a match made in gourmand heaven.

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There are also salty items on this cosmic menu. I like the vegetable garden that resembles a flying saucer. Planted on a lemon mascarpone cream is a vegetable and fruit garden of red endives, cherry tomatoes, turnip, radish, Granny Smith green apple and mango. Perfect for a quick bite. Finish off with a mango-salmon or crab-apple éclair. Or on a hot day, opt for the cold soup made of green tomato, green bean and mint.

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FAUCHON3_0074Head over to Fauchon for more options from this fruity big bang collection: 26-30, place de la Madeleine, Paris 8e.

Merci beaucoup to Fauchon and Do It In Paris for the yummy invitation. 

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From Hellfest to Hellfiesta, a quick tour

Our TV studio and office - the Gibson bus and mini pool.

 Clear blue skies, the sun’s infernal rays hitting down hard on my sunscreen slathered self, I really want to take off my little dress and lay in the makeshift pool, which I’d rather calla  jacuzzi. And since I haven’t brought my bikini, my lingerie will have to do. This is Hellfest, after all. What could be more rock ‘n’ roll than a blondie chick in a bikini? But no, it’s time to return inside the Gibson Guitars bus where the studio has been set up for our show “Une Dose 2 Metal” on French cable channel L’Enôrme TV. The next rock star is arriving soon for an interview. And I thank the Heavens as I feel the AC cooling my skin as soon I climb inside.

Preparations were underway, thanks to Enôrme TV’s technical crew…

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You’ve probably seen a zillion photos and footage of this year’s Hellfest Openair Festival. I’m going to give you a wee behind-the-scenes glimpse (read my initial impressions here as a refresher), starting off with the five-hour road trip with my colleagues Caroline, Céline, Jean and Julie, who’s driving. Hang on, it’s gonna be a hell of a ride… Well, almost.

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Waiting outside the studios in Paris as we load the car and get ready to hit the road.

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Hit the road Jacques.

We had barely left gloomy Paris, full of traffic because of the train strikes, when some of us started asking about the lunch break. Well, we drove for a while until we actually got hungry and eventually agreed to stop “at the next place” or “till we find a place with Starbucks,” I suggested, half-joking. And lo and behold, not ten minutes later, the Starbucks logo was shining at a freeway stop.

Apparently the rest of France was headed to Hellfest as well as the rest area and diners were full of tattooed headbangers. What really gave them away, though, were their rock band t-shirts, a staple in any self-respecting hard rock fan’s wardrobe. Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and more classics were being paraded as if to say, “I’m in The Club.”

This is also when I uttered one of the many phrases du jour, or quotes of the day:

“Some of these headbangers have better hair than I do.” 

Time for lunch…

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Julie, Céline and Caroline enjoying lunch (aka connecting to wifi) on the Starbucks terrace.

My new mantra, thanks to Caroline. This is her self-motivation badge on her purse.

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A few hours later…

We make our way into Clisson, near Nantes. We are in Muscadet wine country.

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Les Vignerons du Muscadet

And here we hit heavy traffic. Thousands of people are on their way to Hellfest, which kicks off tomorrow. So what do we do in the car? We continue to sing along to non-heavy metal songs, risking a good beating if any diehard metalheads heard us. But I make up for it by headbanging to a Rage Against The Machine song (evidence available on Céline’s Instagram), prompting a lightbulb moment: What if I made a headbanging tutorial? (To be released next June!)

The traffic is pretty bad. We’re going at snail speed. Or turtle. So Céline, Caro and I decide to do our nails. And here Céline utters another one of the QOTD’s.

“If the traffic stopped moving for about ten minutes it wold be great cos I need to finish doing my nails.”

Jean, the only guy in the car, is used to girly stuff: he’s got a bunch of sisters. Poor dude.

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Céline applying Revlon polish. if only the car would stop moving for a while…

We made it! We’re in Clisson and at the festival site. Entering the VIP-Press area…

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My magic bracelet

The Press/VIP area is like a ghost town. There’s even  a skateboarding “rink”. The beautiful, hot climate is perfect.

A quick tour on the festival grounds the day before Hellfest commences…

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There are a lot of bars in the VIP/Press area, but only one small eatery, which serves burgers, greasy fries (that actually taste good), pasta and salads. Good enough for a festival, but waiting in line for up to an hour each time is no fun. No, wait, it is. it’s Hellfest! \m/ Here’s a typical menu item (not mine)…

Hellfest-lunch

There is a food court on the festival grounds offering a large variety of different types of foods, even vegan, but we are too busy to go all the way there. Note the devilish names, like Satan’s Rotisserie, and amidst all that is a candy store! A quick look at the Hellfeast…

Ah, even the devil drinks Muscadet…

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 Too busy working with the rock stars (and sometimes taking photos with them if time allows it) to actually see them performing live…

… But we do catch Aerosmith!

On our last night, we went wild and had a Hellfiesta of our own where we drank the complimentary bottle of Muscadet, ate Mikado and secretly took photos on Jean’s laptop. Moi (left) with Céline and Caro.

See y’all next year! \m/

 

Hellfest girlz

 

 

 

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Hellfest 2014: I had a hell of a good time

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I attended my first Hellfest this year and here are some thoughts…

Thanks to the rail strike, road trips can be fun.
Not even traffic can stop us. We really got into the groove in the car. And it wasn’t even metal. We have video evidence of singing and dancing to music that would get us lynched at Hellfest. But Celine’s video of moi headbanging makes up for it. (There are plans to video a headbanging tutorial. You’re welcome.) And that was just on the way there. On the way back, we forgot about the crazy traffic and danced to The Who, Metallica, Queen, Led Zeppelin, U2, disco and Wham! And did I mention our rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love Youuuuuu”? Yup. #TeamEclectic

Lo and behold, we found a Starbucks on the freeway, something we were talking about NOT EVEN 10 MINUTES EARLIER in the car. #WhiteChickProblems

I won’t mention (for now) the “phrases du jour” (quotes of the day) that came out of our mouths.

Hellfest is HUGE. This year 150,000 people attended the festival.
I didn’t get to see Iron Maiden perform because half of France was there. But I heard them! In fact, I was too busy working to really have time to watch any bands.
But I saw Aerosmith! I’d already seen them but never in concert. Another legendary band off my list of shows to see.

Lez Zeppelin massacred a couple of Led Zeppelin songs.

Hellfest is a very dusty place when it’s sunny and apparently very muddy when it rains. Apparently because it was HOT and sun-drenched the entire time!! Sunscreen and hat de rigeueur. #CaliforniaGirlProblems

When you shower after an entire day at the site, it feels like Laurel Canyon when it’s raining; a mudslide. #DustyGirlProblems

Note to self: Never put your sunglasses on the couch in case you sit on it and break it. Thankfully I had my glamourous hat to protect my eyes. #KlutzyGirlProblems
My workplace was the Gibson bus. Very pleasant as it had AC. We even had a jacuzzi outside.

Never question what kind of oil they use in the food at festivals. Don’t complicate your life like that.

There’s a very good crêperie in Clisson called Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots). #Meow
I may have developed temporary diabetes from all the Haribo candies I ate on the Gibson bus! I prefer to call it “brain fuel”.

Metal fans are not the savages some media makes them out to be. They are actually a lot more civilized and less stoned than people at “normal ” festivals. And I love the brotherhood/sisterhood that exists between metal fans. \m/ Metal is more than a musical genre. It’s a community.

I was probably the least metal person there from a sartorial point of view. I intentionally wore girlier clothes, albeit mostly black, to look “different”. And that’s another thing I loved at Hellfest: you can wear the most questionable fashion and no one cares. Just be yourself is the rule. The fashion police has no power or jurisdiction there. The total opposite of the fashion runway that is Coachella.

We (moi, C,C, J, J & J) celebrated the end with our very own aftershow last night, the Hellfiesta, by singing rather loudly under the influence of M & Ms, ie Muscadet & Mikado.

Speaking of which, there’s a good reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to drink (half a glass of) white wine. OK, there are two reasons…

But most importantly…

I got to work with some amazing artists: Therapy?, Death Angel, Rob Zombie, Extreme, Soulfly, Deep Purple, Behemoth, Annihilator, Alter Bridge and Soundgarden.

And I got to work with even more amazing colleagues: Caroline, Céline, Julie, Jean, Stéphane and the whole technical team from “Une Dose 2 Metal” on Enôrme TV, as well as Christian from “Metal XS”. Also a shout-out to the awesome people at Gibson Guitars!

In conclusion, I had an awesome time! \m/

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A tour of Tours, part deux

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Photo courtesy of Hôtel de l’Univers

Did you enjoy Tours, part un? The second part – pardon, I meant part deux – is about relaxing, having a latte, checking social media and wishing I could live at the Hôtel de l’Univers, the oldest in Tours.

This four-star establishment (with three-star pricing) is steeped in history. Portraits of the illustrious figures who have stayed there, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Serge Gainsbourg, John D. Rockefeller, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Georges Clémenceau, King Mohamed V and Antoine St Exupéry, are found throughout the hotel. It is also one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at.

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As you step through the revolving door and go past the reception desk, you find yourself in a mini palace: a vast living room with velvet couches and pink bottles doubling as vases. A grandiose staircase leads to the first floor where the business area and some of the conference rooms are located, as well as the stairs that lead to the upper floors. (A safer option for elevator-fearing moi as the lift seemed a bit outdated.)

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The color scheme in the hallways reminded me of the 3.14 hotel in Cannes, all in majestic purple. Even the ventilation was painted purple!

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A shoefie… Studded booties by Ash.

The room, one of the Style Rooms (part of what they refer to as a Superior Redecorated Room) doesn’t have purple carpeting but a parquet floor that fits in better with the design. A luminous area, it boasts ample closet space, patterned armchairs, at the desk area, one them pink to match the pink and red flowers painted on the wall panels, and a small table and in front of the window to enjoy the complimentary chocolate and candies they provided. The ornate chandelier is a neutral white, the touches of colour on the walls are discreet yet animate the room.

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Photo courtesy of Hôtel de l’Univers

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Photo courtesy of Hôtel de l’Univers

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But the best part is the bathroom, separate from the WC. Completely modern, it has a blurred French window that overlooks the room and a very large shower with a classic shower head as well as a waterfall shower. Oh, I love the shower. I dream of that shower. I would totally live there just for the bathroom.

Breakfast is served in the MomentO Room, while the restaurant La Touraine offers French gastronomy and regional specialties for lunch and dinner. 

For more info, click on Hôtel de l’Univers 

Down the Boulevard Heurteloup, about 50 meters from the hotel, I found this large barometer hanging outside a shop. (Yes, I know, this is trop random.)

Tours-barometer

Even though there’s a Nespresso machine (what else?) in the hotel room, I am partial to the coffee shop I discovered while strolling on the Rue Commerce, at number 83, to be précise, simply called French Coffee Shop.

Tours-cafe

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It began to drizzle and, in an attempt to save my hair from frizz, I sauntered in here when I spotted the leopard-print couches and cacti. Instant appeal right there. I later discovered that it is a growing chain in France.

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Tours-latte

And it is better than that overrated and overpriced famous coffee shop (which does not even have animal print couches nor cacti). I returned several times to enjoy the delicious latte and wrote down some thoughts (wifi wasn’t working), such as:

“I just wish the older businessman would stop staring and smiling at moi. He’s not even deterred by one of my don’t-you-dare-come-over-and-talk-to-me-don’t-even-think-about-it looks.” 

I made a note of the background music – très important: Aerosmith, AC/DC, The Clash, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, Nirvana. It’s aurally safe to stay here.

I also jotted down some interesting conversations I overheard from the couch next to mine:

A foreign exchange student (speaking in English) to her foreign exchange classmates:
“He wasn’t French, he wasn’t English. He was Frenglish.”


Her Lebanese classmate:
“Everybody was so drunk that they couldn’t even remember which country they’re from.”


All four gossiping about a girl “at the party last night”:
- “She was so drunk!”
- “She was worse than last time.”
- “She fell over the chair.”

And I nearly fell off my leopard chair laughing (not out loud).

All photos by moi unless otherwise stated. 

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A tour of Tours, part un

Tours-Loire-cropped

I’m very behind in my posts. In between film festivals, travel, concerts, more travel and life in general, I haven’t had time to share my moments. But a rainy day is ideal to sit down and go through a zillion photos.

In mid-April, I attended the 8th annual Festival du Mauvais Genre in Tours, located in France’s beautiful Loire valley. The festival showcases indie films that mostly fall under the thriller or horror categories and features many young filmmakers with boundless imagination and creativity.

I also discovered a pretty little city.

The best way to discover a new area is to walk around and so I set on a tour of Tours each day, snapping left and right. It is steeped in history yet young with a twist. A happening, place, as they say. And the people are lovely.

The city hall is down the street from my hotel. The weather is beautiful and the colourful flowers are happy it’s finally spring. So am I.

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First evening in Tours, we are greeted by the abominable steel monster in a popular square. Grrrrr!

Tours-monster

So just keep calm and drown your fears. The moves at the Mauvais Genre festival are going to be even scarier!

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This bear looks cuddly enough, but it might go wild if you touch it with sticky hands.

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Tours-Bear-sign

Basilica of St. Martin

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The basilica and its tower

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Decorative doors on the Rue des Trois Pavés Ronds

Tours-Doors

Oh goodie. Down the small street is a rockabilly style crêperie called Mamie Bigoude. In French, Mamie means grandma and Bigoude comes from bigoudie, which means hair rollers. The menu combines 50s diner style foods with a sophisticated French twist.

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There are many restaurants to choose form in Tours. Place Plumereau offers many options and with the gorgeous weather, its terraces were brimming. I like this one with the tree coming out of the veranda.

Tours-Tree

The last residence of Leonardo Da Vinci was in the Loire region and the region pays homage to the Italian artist in various forms, such as this restaurant, simply called Leonardo Da Vinci, near the Place Plumeau. And look at the cute balcony!

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Dessert is just a few steps away. But I’m more excited about the architecture. Just look at the details.

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The rich architectural history of Tours is notable in its chateaux but also the old Renaissance buildings.

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Tours-alleyway Tours-buildingTours-lilies

There are also a lot of ruins, playgrounds for archeologists! This one is at the Placis Michel Conaut, named after a famous architect.

Tours-ruins

There’s also some graffiti…

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Need a drink? Head to the Irish pub L’Atelier on Rue du Châteauneuf. Oh, it’s closed…

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Tours-pub

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Cute signs, right? Shops in Tours have a cute sense of humour and often reference pop culture.

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Even some of the street names evoke colourful images, such as this one which means “the street of good children”.

Tours-street

Italian restaurant Les Mille Pâtes on Rue Bretonneau is a play on words on mille-pates, centipede in French. But I can assure you their menu is insect-free!

Tours-Italian resto

We spot a boat house during a walk along the Loire river. Let’s take a break and rest on a bench before having a coffee later on and heading back to the hotel.

Tours-house-loire

Read Part Deux here.

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Soda in the boudoir

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Chantal Thomass photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth

  I don’t drink sodas but I love the limited edition designer Coca Light (or Diet Coke) bottles and cans. Their latest collaboration with Chantal Thomass is my favorite. After Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs, the lingerie designer dresses the Coca Light bottle in her iconic pink. As a fan of her fine lingerie, I’m thrilled to see her design reflects her brand’s style with the ribbon bow and lace details.

The Wolkoff and Arnodin agency headed the artistic direction and worked directly with Chantal Thomass for every stage of the creation of this limited edition.

“I feel very honored that I have commissioned art director for Coca -Cola Light for Spring 2014. I can think of no better way to celebrate the codes of feminine glamour and sensuality present in my corsetry and lingerie designs than with this iconic drink,” Chantal Thomass said in a press release.

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